Sprint Cup Chase 2011: New Rules Are Going to Make Richmond One Interesting Race

Jim FolsomContributorJuly 12, 2011

SPARTA, KY - JULY 09:  Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, leads during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on July 9, 2011 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

When the boys of NASCAR came up with the new points system for 2011, I said bravo! I liked most of the changes they implemented for this season. Simplifying the points system? Love it. Very easy to follow. Each position is one point. What's not to love? But the best rule change was the "Wild Card" system.

Other sports complain about too many wild cards getting into the playoffs. This despite the fact that many times one of them ends up winning it all. But in NASCAR how can anyone find fault with a system that rewards winning races over just coming close a lot? It's great.

We have eight races to go until the start of the Chase. If the Chase started now, Brad Keselowski would miss it. However, he sits at No. 21 in the points. If he were to move up to No. 20, he's in. Unless of course somebody else between No. 11 and No. 19 were to win the next race. As of right now, David Ragan would be in. He sits in the 15th spot. But his win at Daytona would bump the 12th spot driver, Clint Bowyer, who has no wins.

If the next race at Loudon were the last race before the Chase, Tony Stewart who sits 11th would be on pins and needles. Because if he could not crack the top ten and any one of about a dozen guys were to win, he would be out.

If things stay like this for the next seven races, Richmond should be a lot of fun. Imagine a guy like Regan Smith lurking around about 22nd, a few points out of the top 20, with the ability to knock out a Ryan Newman or Dale Jr. just by slipping into the top 20. There are going to be eyes all over the track that night. 

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Right now, only Ragan has a win among drivers 11-20. Any one of those drivers winning a race would put them in the Chase. Imagine if that holds true until Richmond and you have a bunch of those guys in the top ten late in the race. There will be some paint swapping that night!

With the NFL and NBA in lockout mode and the inevitable Yankees or Red Sox vs. Phillies World Series, NASCAR could be the biggest game in town this fall. And this new points system will make it even more entertaining. It will have the feel of a baseball pennant race.

In what promises to be a pretty bleak fall in the world of sports, NASCAR may save the day.


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